Hawaii’s Lake Iolani Stevens hangs on for monumental victory eight decades in the making at Black Hills Roundup Rodeo in South Dakota


Lake Iolani Stevens

Over the fourth of July weekend in the Midwest, the state of Hawaii was well represented in the rodeo world as Castle graduate, Waimanalo’s Lake Iolani Stevens celebrated a monumental victory, eight decades in the making.

The Big Island born 22 year old who moved to O’ahu as a child, had one of the most memorable moments from the 102nd Black Hills Roundup in South Dakota on Saturday. The Iconic event which serves as one of the longest continually running rodeos in the United States re-introduced women’s bronc riding for the first time in over 80 years. Stevens emphatically celebrated the return by claiming the event title.

“It’s crazy. I still think about it and I’m like, there’s no way that was me and there’s no way that just happened,” Stevens told KHON2 Sports Director Rob DeMello. “The buckle that was awarded is so gorgeous and the people who made it did a great job with it. It’s super old school, it looks like it’s from a while back but still got the new school bling so it’s really gorgeous.”

The Women’s Ranch Bronc Riding, sanctioned by the Texas Bronc Riders Association was a welcomed sight in Belle Fourche and thanks to Stevens the event lived up to the hype as she dazzled with determination in what would end up being the winning ride where she pulled her self back into the saddle after spending seconds of the wild ride on the side of her horse with the venue going wild.

“That’s definitely I think one of my best recoveries. I was hanging on the side of the horse and I like saw the ground and I was no, no, no I can’t. I just did my best to pull myself up. The bell sometimes it mutes when you’re riding in the arena with such a big crowd like that. You don’t hear anything. You don’t hear the roaring, it’s just that ringing in your ear kind of, that’s what I heard, I don’t even know when the bell rings. Being apart of a big event with history like that did drive me a ton. I couldn’t give up at all,” said Stevens.

Stevens, who now resides in Wyoming says that her participation in the sport and enjoying moments like she did this past weekend allow her to not only stay connected to her islands roots but also help carry the flag for Hawaii riders across all islands.

“I think it’s a great opportunity for me to come out and show that there are people in Hawaii that do ride and do Paniolo things and we do look forward to coming out here and competing against you guys and we are just as good. Just to represent means a ton and to be awarded such a prize, that title, the bragging rights, just being able to be there and having people come to me for advice now it’s super crazy but it is nice that I came from little Hawaii to the big stage I guess they call it with rodeo, so it is a huge honor.”

Up next for Stevens will be the Cheyenne Frontier Days rodeo which she qualified for earlier this year. The event is what she calls personally, the biggest event of her career. The highly anticipated event which is dubbed as the world’s largest outdoor rodeo and western celebration will run from July 24 to August 1.

To follow Lake’s journey, click here for a link to her Instagram profile or visit the Cheyenne Frontier Days official website.

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